May 182006
 

I’ll be posting some more writing and photos from our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. Expect my slacker work ethic to dictate a slow speed.

(Sunday, April 30th)

Thanks to Paul performing cabbie duties, we left for LAX on Amtrak at 6PM on Friday. We arrived at Siem Reap, Cambodia at 4 PM on Sunday, tired. It wasn’t just the date line screwing with us, we had been traveling for over 24 hours. I was a bit fearful of doing LAX to Taipei (14 hours) with China Airlines, images of smashed knees in my head. But they were really great. Foam slippers, great tea, and personal entertainment with a decent selection of movies. I’ll have no hesitation to fly with them again.

Once off the plane the moist heat forces your body into an instant sweat. Outside of the mornings and A/C rooms, I was pretty much sweating all the time. A consequence of traveling in the (relatively) dry, hot season. The bonus is that it is also the low season. Though I’m not sure it means as much when attendance rises steadily each year.

Customs might as well have been performed on an assembly line. No smiles here. These guys looked like they had the most boring job in history. Twenty dollars for a visa, stamp-stamp. Let’s see your visa application, stamp-stamp. You seem to match your passport photo, stamp-stamp. Staple the visa to the passport, stamp-stamp. Hand the customs form over, stamp-stamp. On your way now.

After that it was time to find our driver, Mr. Han, and his tuk-tuk, a sort of open air carriage pulled by a motorcycle. As I said before, Siem Reap reminds me a lot of the town below Machu Picchu in Peru. Once just a regular place, it now exists almost solely to provide infrastructure for the tourist masses heading to Angkor. On the way from the airport we passed huge hotel after hotel, with plenty more under construction.

Compared to these places, our accommodation was a lot more low key. Down a dirt road on the east edge of town, the Two Dragons Guesthouse was a nice little spot. Relatively easy to get to, friendly, decent rooms (ours was $15 with AC), and no hassles or hard sells. Bring your own towel though, ours had a bit of a funk to them – seems to be a reoccurring theme on our travels.

After dropping our stuff off we had enough energy to explore “downtown” Siem Reap a bit and have some dinner. After working out temple travel with our tuk-tuk driver for the next day, we crashed hard and slept in.

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